There are so many things we want our children to know about as they are growing up. One of the most important topics to consider teaching your kids is about healthy relationships. After all, our relationships play a huge role in our health and well-being. Many of us think that our children will learn about relationships through experience and hard knocks. But through discussions and guidance parents can help their children learn the difference between healthy and unhealthy relationships.
What does a healthy relationship look like?
They are all different but parents can point out some common traits that healthy relationships have.
Communication is essential in all healthy relationships. When people use assertive communication both parties feel heard and understood. Assertive communication means being honest and direct in what you say and treating the other person with respect. Although all relationships have conflict, healthy communication is based on understanding one another and wanting to find common ground. People in healthy relationships understand that sometimes you need to hit the pause button and address the issues at a later time.
Respect is a must. This is essential at all times in a healthy relationship. Both parties use respect in both communication and actions. Respect is shown in how we treat others.
Balance is another aspect of relationships that many young people have to learn. Parents can teach their children that you can have lots of friends in lots of places and that this is healthy. Many children need help in understanding that spending time with one friend does not mean you do not like other friends. They often get torn about loyalty and this is a great lesson parents can help with. Young people also need to learn balance between relationships and the responsibilities they have in their lives such as school or chores at home.
Resilience is important for kids to have when relationships don’t work out. They need to have the ability to pick themselves up and dust themselves off when important relationships fall apart. They need healthy coping skills to deal with disappointment that ending relationships can cause.
The list of what parents can talk about when talking to their kids about relationships is endless and so are the opportunities. Hearing about your kid’s day and what is going on at school is a great place to start the conversation. Watching TV shows and using current events are also great starts to family discussions. When you are having these talks make sure you listen to your child’s point of view, it can provide you with a picture of how they may handle difficult situations ahead and it will let you know where they may need guidance.
Good luck and enjoy the conversations that await!
Cortland Prevention Resources has great programs for families, parents and youth. Call us today at 607-756-8970 for more information.
Mary Dykeman is a Prevention Specialist with Cortland Prevention Resources, a division of Family Counseling Services.